- Series: Random House Movie Tie-In Books
- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (October 4, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812982959
- ISBN-13: 978-0812982954
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 316 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #192,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Descendants: A Novel (Random House Movie Tie-In Books) Paperback – October 4, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Hemmings's bittersweet debut novel, an expansion of her first published short story ("The Minor Wars," from House of Thieves and originally published in StoryQuarterly), stars besieged and wryly introspective attorney Matt King, the land-rich descendant of Hawaiian royalty and American missionaries and entrepreneurs. He wrestles with the decision of whether to keep his swath of valuable inherited land or sell it to a real estate developer. But even more critical, Matt also has to decide whether to pull the plug on his wife, Joanie, who has been in an irreversible coma for 23 days following a boat-racing accident. Then Matt finds out that Joanie was having an affair with real estate broker Brian Speer, impelling him to travel with his two daughters—precocious 10-year-old Scottie and fresh from rehab 17-year-old Alex—from Oahu to Kauai to confront Brian. Matt finds out the truth about Joanie and Brian, which influences his decision about what to do with his family's on-the-block land and complicates his plans for Joanie. Matt's journey with his girls forms the emotional core of this sharply observed, frequently hilarious and intermittently heartbreaking look at a well-meaning but confused father trying to hold together his unconventional family. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From The New Yorker
The narrator of this audaciously comic début novel, the scion of the last Hawaiian landowning clan, has floated through his privileged life: marriage to a model given to "speedboats, motorcycles, alcoholism"; children getting into trouble (cocaine, bullying) at élite schools; membership at a century-old beach club that rejects those with "unfavorable pedigrees." But when a catamaran accident leaves his wife in a coma he must wake from his own "prolonged unconsciousness," reacquaint himself with his neglected daughters, and track down his wifes lover. Meanwhile, his cousins are urging him to sell the familys vast landholdings for developmentto relinquish, in his eyes, the final vestige of their native Hawaiian ancestry. Hemmings channels the voice of her befuddled middle-aged hero with virtuosity, as he teeters between acerbic and sentimental, scoffing at himself even as he grasps for redemption.
Copyright © 2007 Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Kaui Hemmings' novel is low-key, unornamented, but richly textured with the complicated social and physical realities of Hawaii - a part of the United States that is by turns very familiar and as exotic as farthest Asia. Matt King and his two troubled daughters, Scottie and Alexandra, are trapped in a tragedy not entirely of their own making, and yet manage to hold onto each other to find their way together into something like happiness. The double gift of this elegantly spare book is that it tells us about an America few of us know, even if we've visited Hawaii as tourists; and it also lays out a searing historic moment in the life of this unique American family that is painful in its realism. I have never read a book that focuses on a great unhappiness, but also manages to capture both joy and humor while doing so. It is one of the few books made into films that made my appreciation of the movie greater in the reading of the book.
The Descendants would be the book equivalent of a satisfying dessert (if those other books range from microwave to theater level popcorn), much like eating a Hawaiian malasada after having only donuts your whole life is a worthy experience. It's something you would talk about and recommend to others.
If I had to give a synopsis it would be: "An absent father must reconnect with his children and reassess his life after he learns his comatose wife had been having an affair".
Which isn't to say The Descendants is a piece of classic literature or that Mrs Hemmings is on her way to a National Book Award, but in some ways I am guessing many readers will enjoy it that much more.There is an earnestness and grounding to her characters that is rewarding and allows for an impressive amount of character growth in what is a relatively short novel. Hemmings' Hawaii plays as a final pivotal character that seems lived in and real outside of the normal tourist experience.
All in all, it is a great read-- I look forward to seeing the movie.
As a mother I was stressed during this whole book and angry with Matt that he had not been more present in his daughter's upbringing and he allowed his wife free rein without question. As the story went on though he started to show superb judgement in how he handled so many of the new situations that showed up. The author did a fine job in the steadiness of Matt still making mistakes and where his aha moments happened, causing a change in his thoughts and actions.
Joanie is written in a very believable manner and one wonders if she ever thought of the damage she was doing to her children or if she was that clueless that she thought she was helping them. Her character is not likable for all the thoughtless damage she did to everyone around.
For me the interaction between Matt and Sid was the most impactful part of the story. Both of these two saved each other is ways that only they understood. What these two did for each other was amazing and heartfelt making me cry.
For this review I listened to it via audible and referenced the ebook version as well. I wonder if I had only read the book if I would have had a different outcome in my review. Though I haven't seen the movie I wonder how this book would come across on the screen so out of curiosity I will see it though.
I give this 3-1/2 STARS.
Most recent customer reviews
Seriously, this is such a depressing story of rich entitled people with all there terrible problems - drugs,...Read more